Project management – Knowing when to dig in and when to step back

I just began my first ever project manager position a couple of weeks ago. So how is it going? Well, I really like it. It is somewhat what I thought it would be. It is either a great deal busier than what I initially thought, or I have to just learn a few things first in this new role in order to get better at time management.


In my last position I was not pushed to meet hard deadlines. Honestly, I just didn’t have them.  Awesome, right? Well this new job of mine is nothing like the old job. It is go, go, go; and I love it! However, I am learning to prioritize on the fly – almost every day since I have been given 2 projects to start off with. One is big and is very important to the whole organization, and the other is important but a lot smaller in comparison. I also have other ad-hoc tasks that I complete that take time from my projects. My problem with all of this so far is that I have been a very involved worker throughout my whole career. I want to know everything about everything. I also want to do everything since then I will know that I got it done and there is no risk with someone else doing it. Well that’s a problem when you are a project manager and you a ton of stuff to do all the time and you stay in the “dig in” mentality. Well this type of problem then led me to look around online and I found a great blog with some ideas:

Everything is not important important!

  • Sit down with the boss to have them set you straight or be prioritized directly from them
  • Listen to all stakeholders, including your family to find out what items you are responsible for are holding them up
  • Document all arrangements of work to be completed for people and from people. (CYA)
  • Look backwards from the process diagram to find out your backward times which will give you deadlines you have to meet.

Become Organized (If you are not already)

  • Don’t waste time trying to figure out what you should be doing, let a system deal with that while you actually do something.

Cost, Scope, Time

  • Work backwards from when your deadlines are and how long your tasks will take. Creating a list for this will automatically give you priorities on what should be done.
  • Spend money when necessary to help get you back up above water again in your project’s progress.
  • Communicate with your stakeholders if things just aren’t going to plan and be honest so that they will see that you are working with them to get them everything they need

Delegate as much as possible

  • There may be people who can help you finish a task

Do any of you struggle with some of these problems in your PM roles? Or do you know people who do?


Project Crashing & Ethics

Project management was something I learned fairly recently. In particular, I found the concept of crashing to be intriguing. Unfortunately, I have not had any internships where I was actually exposed to a physical project such as building a house. However, I have had three accounting internships where I have done various accounting projects.

Initially, I thought accounting processes could generally not be crashed. This is because it is the accountants that are completing the process and as such are limited by the number of hours a person can feasibly work. After all, people need to sleep (of course, some of the larger accounting firms seem to disregard this fact).

I then realized this is actually done all the time in accounting firms, I just never had an official name for it. When a project turns out to be too massive, such as completing an important audit in a tight deadline, an outside consultant is hired to shoulder the extra load. This was actually what happened at one of the companies I interned at. I was an internal auditor and near the end of my term, it turned out there was simply too much work to be done. We could not keep up with our schedule due to unforeseen circumstances arising (our CFO had us work on ad-hoc project he wanted very badly). As a result, my director hired an outside consultant. I didn’t realize until now that my director was technically crashing the project. By spending the money to hire this contractor on a short-term basis, my company was able to complete and file all regulatory SOX testing by the appropriate deadline. I thought this was an excellent and well used moment of project crashing as I had felt extremely overloaded at the time.

As I thought further, especially in a field such as audit, project crashing can sometimes be more than just about meeting deadlines and choosing the most cost efficient crash. In the anecdote of my time as an internal auditor, my director could have easily asked me to stay and work the extra hours at hardly any additional cost. However, because he knew that I was only an intern and that the high pressure and volume might lower the quality of audit, he purposely crashed with the much more costly option. Perhaps it’s due to the field I work in, but I’ve often found impending deadlines and ethics to be close together, hand in hand. As a result, I feel that project crashing can often be a very ethical process.

To the class: Where there ever any instances where you were ethically bound to crash or not crash a project?